Dialogues and Acclamations
the singing of acclamations is most important in fostering people's active participation in the liturgy. Singing of the dialogues between the minister and the people is also strongly encuraged, as such singing helps express the unity of the assembly, particularly large assemblies.
The Gospel and Eucharistic prayer acclamations are the highest priorities for the people's singing, more important than any other songs of the liturgy.
Even when nothing else is sung, the Alleluia, Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation and Amen at the end of the Eucharistic prayer should be sung by all in every Mass, even unaccompanied.What the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) Says
The Different Elements of Mass:
The Importance of Singing
40. Great importance should therefore be attached to the use of singing in the celebration of the Mass, with due consideration for the culture of the people and abilities of each liturgical assembly. Although it is not always necessary (e.g. in weekday Masses) to sing all the texts that are of themselves meant to be sung, every care should be taken that singing by the ministers and the people is not absent in celebrations that occur on Sundays and on holy days of obligation. In the choosing of the parts actually to be sung, however, preference should be given to those that are of greater importance and especially to those to be sung by the priest or the deacon or the lector, with the people responding, or by the priest and people together.
Acclamation before the Reading of the Gospel
23. The Alleluia or, as the liturgical season requires, the verse before the gospel, is also a ‘rite or act standing by itself.’ It serves as the assembled faithful’s greeting of welcome to the Lord who is about to speak to them and as an expression of their faith through song. The Alleluia or the verse before the gospel must be sung and during it all stand. It is not to be sung only by the cantor who intones it or by the choir, but by the whole congregation together.
Singing and Music
30. Since singing must be given great importance in all celebrations, it is to be especially encouraged in every way for Masses celebrated with children, in view of their special affinity for music. The culture of various peoples and the children’s own capabilities should be taken into account.
If possible, the acclamations should be sung by the children rather than recited, especially the acclamations that form part of the eucharistic prayer.
31. To facilitate the children’s participation in singing the Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, and the Agnus Dei, it is permitted to use with the melodies appropriate vernacular texts, accepted by competent authority, even if these do not correspond exactly to the liturgical texts.
Some General Norms
7. Between the solemn, fuller form of liturgical celebration, in which everything that demands singing is in fact sung, and the simplest form, in which singing is not used, there can be various degrees according to the greater or lesser place allotted to singing. However, in selecting the parts which are to be sung, one should start with those that are by their nature of greater importance, and especially those which are to be sung by the priest or by the ministers, with the people replying, or those which are to be sung by the priest and people together. The other parts may be gradually added according as they are proper to the people alone or to the choir alone.
16. One cannot find anything more religious and more joyful in sacred celebrations than a whole congregation expressing its faith and devotion in song. Therefore the active participation of the whole people, which is shown in singing, is to be carefully promoted as follows:
(a) It should first of all include acclamations, responses to the greetings of the priest and ministers and to the prayers of litany form, and also antiphons and psalms, refrains or repeated responses, hymns and canticles.
(b) Through suitable instruction and practices, the people should be gradually led to a fuller—indeed, to a complete—participation in those parts of the singing which pertain to them.
(c) Some of the people's song, however, especially if the faithful have not yet been sufficiently instructed, or if musical settings for several voices are used, can be handed over to the choir alone, provided that the people are not excluded from those parts that concern them. But the usage of entrusting to the choir alone the entire singing of the whole Proper and of the whole Ordinary, to the complete exclusion of the people's participation in the singing, is to be deprecated.
The Singing of the Mass
28. The distinction between solemn, sung and read Mass, sanctioned by the Instruction of 1958 (n. 3), is retained, according to the traditional liturgical laws at present in force. However, for the sung Mass (Missa cantata), different degrees of participation are put forward here for reasons of pastoral usefulness, so that it may become easier to make the celebration of Mass more beautiful by singing, according to the capabilities of each congregation.
These degrees are so arranged that the first may be used even by itself, but the second and third, wholly or partially, may never be used without the first. In this way the faithful will be continually led towards an ever greater participation in the singing.
29. The following belong to the first degree:
(a) In the entrance rites: the greeting of the priest together with the reply of the people; the prayer.
(b) In the Liturgy of the Word: the acclamations at the Gospel.
(c) In the Eucharistic Liturgy: the prayer over the offerings; the preface with its dialogue and the Sanctus; the final doxology of the Canon, the Lord's prayer with its introduction and embolism; the Pax Domini; the prayer after the Communion; the formulas of dismissal.
30. The following belong to the second degree:
(a) the Kyrie, Gloria and Agnus Dei;
(b) the Creed;
(c) the prayer of the faithful.
31. The following belong to the third degree:
(a) the songs at the Entrance and Communion processions;
(b) the songs after the Lesson or Epistle;
(c) the Alleluia before the Gospel;
(d) the song at the Offertory;
(e) the readings of Sacred Scripture, unless it seems more suitable to proclaim them without singing.
32. The custom legitimately in use in certain places and widely confirmed by indults, of substituting other songs for the songs given in the Graduale for the Entrance, Offertory and Communion, can be retained according to the judgment of the competent territorial authority, as long as songs of this sort are in keeping with the parts of the Mass, with the feast or with the liturgical season. It is for the same territorial authority to approve the texts of these songs.
33. It is desirable that the assembly of the faithful should participate in the songs of the Proper as much as possible, especially through simple responses and other suitable settings.
The song after the lessons, be it in the form of gradual or responsorial psalm, has a special importance among the songs of the Proper. By its very nature, it forms part of the Liturgy, of the Word. It should be performed with all seated and listening to it—and, what is more, participating in it as far as possible.
34. The songs which are called the "Ordinary of the Mass," if they are sung by musical settings written for several voices may be performed by the choir according to the customary norms, either a capella, or with instrumental accompaniment, as long as the people are not completely excluded from taking part in the singing.
In other cases, the parts of the Ordinary of the Mass can be divided between the choir and the people or even between two sections of the people themselves: one can alternate by verses, or one can follow other suitable divisions which divide the text into larger sections. In these cases, the following points are to be noted: it is preferable that the Creed, since it is a formula of profession of faith, should be sung by all, or in such a way as to permit a fitting participation by the faithful; it is preferable that the Sanctus, as the concluding acclamation of the Preface, should normally be sung by the whole congregation together with the priest; the Agnus Dei may be repeated as often as necessary, especially in concelebrations, where it accompanies the Fraction; it is desirable that the people should participate in this song, as least by the final invocation.
35. The Lord's Prayer is best performed by the people together with the priest.
If it is sung in Latin, the melodies already legitimately existing should be used; if, however, it is sung in the vernacular, the settings are to be approved by the competent territorial authority.
36. There is no reason why some of the Proper or Ordinary should not be sung in said Masses. Moreover, some other song can also, on occasions, be sung at the beginning, at the Offertory, at the Communion and at the end of Mass. It is not sufficient, however, that these songs be merely "Eucharistic"—they must be in keeping with the parts of the Mass, with the feast, or with the liturgical season.